THURROCK council has faced more criticism for not including a plan to tackle borough’s poor air quality in new a health and wellbeing strategy.
Jo Broadbent, Thurrock’s director of public health, faced questions from the health and wellbeing board over the omission. At Wednesday’s council meeting, John Kent, leader of the Labour Group, raised the issue again, asking why it was not included in the strategy.
Cllr Kent said: “The issue which we all know is very real in Thurrock is air quality. I can only find it mentioned once. Air quality is so important to so many people that it should be much, much further forward in this report and I think it merits much more than just that one throwaway comment.”
Councillors also called for health inequalities across the borough to be addressed in the strategy which outlines a range of health and lifestyle issues the strategy will focus on.
Cllr Kent said: “It can’t be right that a man in Tilbury Riverside is likely to live nine years less life than a man living in Little Thurrock Rectory. They are wards that abut each other. We have to do something to get under the skin of why we’ve got those inequalities and that lack of levelness within Thurrock especially in two wards that are as close together as they are.
“There is a statistic that says men in Tilbury come to the end of their healthy life in their early 60s. That’s just horrific. That can’t be right in 2022.”
In response to air quality issues, Deborah Huelin, councillor responsible for adults and communities said air quality across the borough is monitored continuously with no breaches of current standards recorded over the last year.
She added: “The council aren’t responsible for weather patterns. They are not responsible for wind direction. They are not responsible for people getting in their cars and going to work or to take children to school.
“We as residents have to take some responsibility too for the pollution and air quality of our borough and not expect the council to keep doing it for us. We’ve got to start looking at cars we drive and the rubbish we make.”